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Government Shut Down Looms

December 15, 2018 by TWN Staff
U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence look on during a meeting with Congressional leadership including House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) in the Oval Office of the White House Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

With no resolution in sight on the border security question, Democrats and President Trump are locked in a bitter dispute with less than two weeks before a spending bill must be passed to keep the government open.

President Trump has one thing on his mind — the wall. And he wants $5 billion appropriated as part of the spending agreement, a sum Democrats have no intention of providing. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and (most likely) incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi have offered only $1.3 billion as part of the spending package.

Earlier this week, the dispute was on televised display with President Trump taking ownership for any potential shutdown, saying, “If we don’t have border security, we’ll shut down the government — this country needs border security.” Mr. Trump finally said, exasperated. “You want to know something? I’ll tell you what: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.”

At this point, it’s hard to say what will ultimately happen before the December 21st deadline, but if a shutdown does happen, it will be fairly limited. Congress has passed approximately 75% of the federal government spending through September 2019, including spending for the Pentagon, Departments of Health and Human Services, and Labor departments.

Seven spending bills are still pending that need to be passed. Funding is set to expire for the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Interior Department, the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other parts of the government.

Some federal employees would be furloughed, while others would be deemed essential and work without pay until funding is passed and back-pay is issued.

Importantly, a lack of funding will not impact the Mueller investigation, despite overall funding for the Department of Justice up in the air. Mueller’s office “is funded from a permanent indefinite appropriation and would be unaffected in the event of a shutdown,” a Justice Department spokesperson told CNN. “The appropriation bills before Congress do not impact” the special counsel’s office.

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